"We've got a long history together," Smith said on Tuesday.
• Smith was the assistant general manager of the Rockies in November 1992, when the team took Ausmus from the Yankees during the Rule 5 Draft.
• In 1993, while he was a first-time GM with the Padres, Smith made a deal with the Rockies to acquire Ausmus.
• In 1996, while the GM of the Tigers, Smith traded for Ausmus, who spent parts of three seasons with Detroit over two stints.
• Ausmus' second stint with the Tigers came in 1999, when -- you guessed it -- Smith acquired him again.
The Tigers hired Ausmus even though he's never managed a game in the Major Leagues, nor spent time in a dugout other than as a player. But Smith doesn't see this as an impediment, by any means.
"I think he's going to be a really good [manager]," Smith said of Ausmus, who spent 18 seasons in the Major Leagues as a catcher before retiring after the 2010 season.
Smith said that the Padres will miss Ausmus, who joined the front office as a special assistant to the baseball operations staff in November 2010 by then-GM Jed Hoyer.
During his time with the Padres, Ausmus worked with the baseball operations and player development staffs, and assisted Hoyer and then his successor, current GM Josh Byrnes.
"We'll miss his work with the catchers and just him being around," Smith said. "When he was around, it was a pretty good environment, whether that was with staff, coaches, or the pitchers and catchers. Just his personality, his attitude and his wit will be missed."
Ausmus worked closely with the organization's catchers, including Austin Hedges, San Diego's top prospect among position players. Hedges, who is playing in the Arizona Fall League, is the third-best catching prospect in the Minors as ranked by MLB.com.
"I have gone down [to San Diego] a few times the last few offseasons to work with [Ausmus] or talked with him when he made the rounds during the season," Hedges said recently. "It's always good to pick his brain. I always seem to learn something from him."